Saturday, March 8, 2008… I was visited by hospice; he was a black man, roughly in his late forties and he came in and worked quickly, setting up the hospital bed and oxygen disperser. He tested the equipment like someone who was used to the routine of it all. I, on the other hand, was insanely nervous, and feeling helpless as I saw all that went into ensuring a persons death would be as comfortable as possible.
He showed me how to use the equipment and gave me papers to sign. I will be honest; I couldn’t remember too much about what he said because all I was trying to do was wrap my mind around the fact that my momma was supposed to die with me in this room. The few hours that passed after he left were long and gruelling… about 6pm, I received a call from the hospital that momma was on her way. This came from the hospice nurse who arrived about an hour before momma arrived. I cant remember her name, but her face was kind and her words assuring that it was going to be okay. I know that I was a mess, but she told me that I would be able to handle this, yet in my mind, I had already failed.
My dad came by soon after, and helped me make sure that they would be able to roll her in and get her situated. Once momma arrived, things began to go downhill fast; her body was jerking and she has a glazed look in her eyes. What was funny is that as her body convulsed, she would not stop looking at me. It was like she was trying to stop me from distressing, even though she was obviously in so much pain. The helplessness I felt at that point could not ever be put into words, but all I could do then is hold her hand through it.
The nurse began to work on her; she explained that momma was seizing constantly because the cancer has rested on a part of her brain stem… I kept my composer on the outside, but I was panicking greatly on the inside. For an hour, she tried everything to stabilize her condition, but to no avail. She then called the hospital and had an ambulance come to take her back. Momma only stayed with me for an hour and 45 minutes.
The EMT’s came in and put her in the ambulance. They did not expect her to make it to the hospital because her seizures were getting worse and her blood pressure was increasing… she made it to the hospital. Once there, the emergency room was ready for battle, but because of the do not resuscitate order, could only give her an IV and pain medication.
She began to breathe in a way that is called a ‘death rumble’; I was desperately trying to prepare myself for something that I was in NO way prepared for; we thought that this was it, but all the while momma kept her eyes on me; trying still to comfort me the best way she could. All I could do then was lay on her shoulder and sing to her. By God’s grace, the seizures began to lessen and her blood pressure decreased; the hospital decided then to place her in a room, even through they didn’t expect her to last through the night.
She couldn’t leave yet… I didn’t know why at the time. I do now.
To be continued…